Alexei Navalny: US says Russia poisoned Navalny, imposes sanctions | World News – Times of India

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration declassified an intelligence finding Tuesday that Russia’s FSB, one of its leading intelligence agencies, orchestrated the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, and announced its first sanctions against the Russian government for the attack and the imprisonment of the opposition politician.
The sanctions closely mirrored a series of actions that European nations and Britain took in October and expanded Monday. Senior administration officials said it was part of an effort to show unity in the new administration’s first confrontations with the government of President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
But none of the sanctions were specifically directed at Putin, or the country’s intelligence chiefs or the oligarchs that support the Russian leader.
In announcing the role of the FSB, or Federal Security Service, in the poisoning, U.S. intelligence officials were confirming the reports of many news organizations, some of which traced the individual agents who tracked Navalny and attacked him with Novichok, a nerve agent that Russia has used against other dissidents. It was unclear if the United States planned to release a formal report, as it did last week when it confirmed two-year-old findings on the role of the Saudi crown prince in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, or would simply summarize the key finding in the Navalny case.
The sanction actions were notable, chiefly because they are the first Biden has taken in five weeks since he became president. While most past presidents have come into office declaring they would seek a reset of relations with Russia, Biden has done the opposite — warning that Putin is driving his country back into an era of authoritarianism, and promising to push back on violations of human rights and efforts to destabilize Europe.
One official told reporters Tuesday morning that the administration was not seeking to reset relations, but also was not seeking to escalate confrontations. The test may come in the next few weeks, when the administration is expected to announce its response to the SolarWinds cyberattack, in which suspected Russian hackers bore deeply into nine government agencies and more than 100 companies, stealing data and planting “back doors” into their computer networks.
History suggests the new sanctions may have little effect.
In 2018, the Trump administration announced sanctions against Russia for the use of a nerve agent against a former Russian double agent living in Britain, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, and expelled dozens of Russian diplomats. But that proved little deterrent to the FSB using the same technique against Navalny.
White House officials are expected to announce the sanctions later Tuesday, and the Treasury Department will publish a list of the names of those under sanctions.
But a senior official conceded that the action was, in many ways, catching up to designations that the Europeans have already made. The official said the main effort was to assure that the U.S. and Europe were “on the same page” after several months in which European sanctions went beyond any imposed by Washington.
The European Union on Monday approved the imposition of sanctions on four senior Russian officials considered responsible for the prosecution and imprisonment of Navalny.
The decision, approved by the member states, will go into effect as early as Tuesday, when the sanctions are published, and is the first time the EU has used new powers under its version of the Magnitsky act, which allows Brussels to sanction human rights violators worldwide.
The new sanctions are narrowly drawn to hit those directly and legally responsible for Navalny’s conviction in what appeared to be a show trial and subsequent imprisonment upon his return to Russia from Germany, where he recuperated from the poisoning.
The EU has already sanctioned six Russians and a state scientific research center in response to the poisoning of Navalny.
These latest European sanctions, which are travel bans and asset freezes, cover four individuals: two prosecutorial officials, the head of Russia’s national guard and the head of Russia’s prison service.
They are Igor Krasnov, who became Russia’s prosecutor-general a year ago; Alexander I. Bastrykin, whose Investigative Committee handles investigations into major crimes and reports directly to Putin; Victor V. Zolotov, head of Russia’s National Guard and a former Putin bodyguard, who threatened Navalny in September 2018; and Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the federal prison service.

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